Friday, June 14, 2019

0 Review: Stoker's Wilde

Stoker's Wilde
by Steven Hopstaken,  Melissa Prusi
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 9th 2019 by Flame Tree Press

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley for review. It has in no way influenced my opinion.


Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for one another to battle the Black Bishop, a mysterious madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will. With the help of a European vampire expert, a spirited actress and an American businessman, our heroes fight werewolves, vampires and the chains of Victorian morality. The action will take them to dark forests in Ireland, through the upper-class London theater world and culminates in an exciting showdown at Stonehenge, where Bram and Oscar must stop a vampire cult from opening the gates of Hell. 

My Thoughts

Where did Bram Stoker get the idea for Dracula? Where did Oscar Wilde get his inspiration for The Picture of Dorian Gray? Both of these classic novels have embedded themselves in our culture since they were created. Perhaps it's the search for immortality that intrigues readers. Or perhaps it's something deeper, something more sinister. 

Before Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde created their literary masterpieces, these two gentlemen were thrown together in an adventure to stop supernatural forces from taking over England and opening the gates of Hell. Stoker and Wilde don't get along well, especially after Stoker steals Wilde's fiance. But they must put aside their differences for the good of all mankind.

Stoker's Wilde is told in the form of epistles, journal entries, and telegrams. I liked this approach to telling the story. Although, a few times, I felt it slowed the pace down a little too much. The authors used facts from Stoker and Wilde and blended them flawlessly with fiction. Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi have written an intriguing twist on two interesting literary superstars. 

The characters are based on real people that I don't really know a lot about. It was easy to suspend any belief that I had about them to engross myself in this novel. Besides the occasional pacing problem, I really enjoyed this novel. I felt it was on par with the literary masterpieces of Stoker and Wilde. If you're into Gothic horror, you might want to check out this book.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

0 Mysteries are revealed—both psychological and physical: Week 8 of Sync's Summer of #Audiobooks

Available for a Limited Time
Remember — grab these titles before they are replaced by a new pairing on 6/20/2019! While the title availability is time-limited, your listening time is not. Once you have downloaded the MP3 files, the audiobook is yours to keep and listen to at your leisure. 

Download this week's free audiobooks.

by Ursula Dubosarsky | Read by Kate Rudd
Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

There were only eleven of them, like eleven sisters all the same age in a large family.... On the television news they heard gunfire and the sound of helicopter blades and bombs falling. The little girls hung on to the brink of a hugeness that they knew was there but had no way of discovering. The Vietnam War rages overseas, but back at home, in a year that begins with the hanging of one man and ends with the drowning of another, eleven schoolgirls embrace their own chilling history when their teacher abruptly goes missing on a field trip. Who was the mysterious poet they met in the garden? What actually happened that day? And most important, who can they tell about it? In beautifully crafted prose that shimmers and fades, Ursula Dubosarsky reveals how a single shared experience can alter the course of young lives forever. Part gripping thriller, part ethereal tale of innocence lost, The Golden Day is a poignant study of fear and friendship, and of what it takes to come of age with courage.

by Mary Roach | Read by Emily Woo Zeller

Published by Tantor Audio

"America's funniest science writer" (Washington Post) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn't the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of—or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach at our side, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists—who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts. Like all of Roach's books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

1 Of Knights and Dogfights Book Blast and Giveaway #OfKnightsandDogfights #EllieMidwood #BookBlast #HFVBTBlogTours

Of Knights and Dogfights: A WWII Novel by Ellie Midwood

Publication Date: January 4, 2019
eBook & Paperback; 426 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

“Has it ever occurred to you, Johann; the fact that we’re fighting on the wrong side?”

Austria, 1938

On the verge of the most devastating war of all times, four young men found themselves sharing a room in a flying school dormitory. A bohemian Berliner, a Flieger-Hitlerjugend member, a prodigy pilot, and a butcher’s son, with nothing in common but their love for the Luftwaffe and the freedom the sky has to offer. The bond they develop is put to the test by what might be a stronger adversary - war itself. Over the English Channel, in the dusty skies of Africa, on the brutal Eastern front, they will discover where their loyalty lies, and what true bravery means.

“It’s Großdeutsches Reich, soldier. When one has a family at home, it doesn’t leave him many chances for the revolt.”

As the war progresses, Willi and Johann grow more and more disillusioned with the regime they’re protecting with their lives. An SS unit appearing on their base to claim one of their own; bits of conversation revealing the truth about the extermination program accidentally overheard during the official reception - the pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together, but it’s too late to do anything but fight to the bitter end, whatever it may bring.

Set during one of the bloodiest wars in history, “Of Knights and Dogfights” is the story of the shattered illusions of youth, tyranny and freedom, friendship and love guiding one out of the darkest hell of Soviet captivity.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Ellie Midwood is a best-selling, award-winning historical fiction writer. She's a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, a neat freak, an adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew and a doggie mama.

Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.

Readers' Favorite - winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) - "The Girl from Berlin: Standartenfuhrer's Wife"

Readers' Favorite - winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) - "The Austrian" (honorable mention)

New Apple - 2016 Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing - "The Austrian" (official selection)

For more information on Ellie and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, June 10

Tuesday, June 11

Wednesday, June 12

Thursday, June 13

Friday, June 14

Saturday, June 15

Sunday, June 16

Tuesday, June 18

Wednesday, June 19

Thursday, June 20

Friday, June 21


We have one paperback copy of Of Knights and Dogfights up for grabs! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Of Knights and Dogfights

Monday, June 10, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Things My Son Needs To Know About The World

Things My Son Needs to Know about the World
by Fredrik Backman
Narrated by Santino Fontana
Length: 3 hrs and 10 mins
256 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio 
 (ISBN13: 9781508258698)

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review.


The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove shares an irresistible and moving collection of heartfelt, humorous essays about fatherhood, providing his newborn son with the perspective and tools he’ll need to make his way in the world. 

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World collects the personal dispatches from the front lines of one of the most daunting experiences any man can experience: fatherhood.

As he conveys his profound awe at experiencing all the “firsts” that fill him with wonder and catch him completely unprepared, Fredrik Backman doesn’t shy away from revealing his own false steps and fatherly flaws, tackling issues both great and small, from masculinity and mid-life crises to practical jokes and poop.

In between the sleep-deprived lows and wonderful highs, Backman takes a step back to share the true story of falling in love with a woman who is his complete opposite, and learning to live a life that revolves around the people you care about unconditionally. Alternating between humorous side notes and longer essays offering his son advice as he grows up and ventures out into the world, Backman relays the big and small lessons in life, including:

-How to find the team you belong to
-Why airports explain everything about religion and war
-The reason starting a band is crucial to cultivating and keeping friendships
-How to beat Monkey Island 3
-Why, sometimes, a dad might hold onto his son’s hand just a little too tight

My Thoughts

Elizabeth Stone said, “Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”  I don't think a truer sentence has ever been written. I have two hearts walking around outside my body as I write this. One is about to embark on the world while the other still has a few years before she will begin her journey. 

As time was coming to a close on my son's high school career, I couldn't help but wonder if I taught him everything he needs to know about the world. Have we covered all the important things at least? Fredrik Backman and I are at opposite ends of Phase I in the parenting spectrum. (Phase I is years 0-18. The years when you are one of the most influential people in your child's life.) 

I enjoy Backman's writing immensely. I remember when I first read A Man Called Ove. I laughed out load and cried all in the same chapter. His story encompasses what it means to find your tribe, your family. You fall in love with his characters, which aren't always likeable in the beginning. But they become endearing in the end. It's because of this book I was curious to read Things My Son Needs to Know About the World. I chose audiobook format because I love audiobooks, and Backman's books are highly enjoyable in audiobook format. Seriously, check them out if you haven't already.

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World is narrated by Santino Fontana. He does a wonderful job bringing Backman's essays to life. He reads the book with the depth and humor the author intended. Fontana makes you feel as if you are in a one-on-one conversation about parenthood. It almost seems unreal that this book is a little over three hours long because it's chocked full of charming and amusing anecdotes, as well as more serious topics. 

I also love how Backman doesn't try to come off as a parenting expert. He acknowledges his missteps. He embraces his flaws. And I think that's why this book is so endearing. It speaks from the heart. Things My Son Needs to Know About the World is the perfect book for parents, no matter what phase of life your children are in. It's definitely perfect for fathers, who will probably love this book even more than I do. I can honestly say, this is one of the best parenting books out there. Do yourself a favor and read it.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

1 You may think you know someone, but is it the truth or just gossip? #audiobooks #Sync

Available for a Limited Time
Remember — grab these titles before they are replaced by a new pairing on 6/13/2019! While the title availability is time-limited, your listening time is not. Once you have downloaded the MP3 files, the audiobook is yours to keep and listen to at your leisure

An Enemy of the People
by Henrik Ibsen, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Read by Rosalind Ayres, Gregory Harrison, Richard Kind, Alan Mandell, Jon Matthews, Alan Shearman, Josh Stamberg, Emily Swallow, Tom Virtue, Sam Boeck, Julia Coulter, Jeff Gardner, William Hickman, Adam Mondschein

When a small town relies on tourists flocking to its baths, will a report of dangerously polluted waters be enough to shut them down? Henrik Ibsen weighs the cost of public health versus a town’s livelihood in An Enemy of the People. Adapted by Rebecca Lenkiewicz. An L.A. Theatre Works full cast recording featuring: Rosalind Ayres as Catherine Stockman Gregory Harrison as Peter Stockman Richard Kind as Dr. Thomas Stockman Alan Mandell as Morten Kill Alan Shearman as Captain Horster Jon Matthews as Billing Josh Stamberg as Hovstad Emily Swallow as Petra Tom Virtue as Aslaksen Additional voices by Sam Boeck, William Hickman, Adam Mondschein, Julia Coulter, and Jeff Gardner. Includes an interview about the Deepwater Horizon, man-made environmental disasters, climate change, and the state of the world's water supply with Joel K. Bourne Jr., former senior environment writer for National Geographic. Directed by Martin Jarvis. Recorded in Los Angeles before a live audience at The James Bridges Theater, UCLA in April of 2014. An Enemy of the People is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, bridging science and the arts in the modern world.

A Girl Like That
by Tanaz Bhathena
Read by Firdous Bamji, Neil Shah, Soneela Nankani, Lameece Issaq

In this young adult debut set in Saudi Arabia, where the law forbids romantic relationships outside of marriage, two teens fall in love, with tragic consequences. Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: an Indian girl, a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a troublemaker whose romantic entanglements are the subject of endless gossip among the girls in her school. "You don't want to get involved with a girl like that," they say. So how is it that Porus, a Parsi boy, has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of the highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is called into question.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: On Being 40ish

On Being 40(ish)
by Lindsey Mead (Editor),  Kate Bolick, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Veronica Chambers, Sloane Crosley, Meghan Daum, K.J. Dell'Antonia, Jill Kargman , Julie Klam, Jessica Lahey, Catherine Newman, Sujean Rim, Jena Schwartz, Sophfronia Scott, Allison Winn Scotch
Narrated by: Janina Edwards, Madeleine Maby, Soneela Nankani, Joy Osmanski, Candace Thaxton
Audiobook, 5 hrs and 2 mins
Published February 5th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio

I received a copy of this book from Simon and Schuster for review purposes. It has no way influenced my opinion of this book.


The big 4-0. Like eighteen and twenty-one, this is a major and meaningful milestone our lives—especially for women. Turning forty is a poignant doorway between youth and…what comes after; a crossroads to reflect on the roads taken and not, and the paths yet before you. The decade that follows is ripe for nostalgia, inspiration, wisdom, and personal growth.

In this dazzling collection, fifteen writers explore this rich phase in essays that are profound, moving and above all, brimming with joie de vivre. With a diverse array of voices—including Veronica Chambers, Meghan Daum, Kate Bolick, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Sloane Crosley, KJ Dell’Antonia, Julie Klam, Jessica Lahey, Catherine Newman, Sujean Rim, Jena Schwartz, Sophfronia Scott, Allison Winn Scotch, Lee Woodruff, and Jill Kargman—On Being 40(ish) offers deeply personal, often hilarious perspectives across a range of universal themes—friendship, independence, sex, beauty, aging, wisdom, and the passage of time.

Beautifully designed to make the perfect gift, and to be a treasure to turn to time and time again, On Being 40(ish) reflects the hopes, fears, challenges and opportunities of a generation. 

My Thoughts

When I was a child, I remember the adults celebrating turning 40 with black balloons, a "you're over the hill" cake, and on occasion tombstones in your front yard. It was as if to say, 40 = your life is over. My sister cried the day she turned 40. Big, blubbering tears. And for the life of me I couldn't figure out why. She's only a year older than I am. So when my turn came, to be honest, I didn't feel any different. I didn't cry. I felt the same as when I turned 25 or 32. Over the year I did start to wonder if I have or am accomplishing everything  I wanted to. I started to take notice of the women around me, looking at their journey and noticing the differences and similarities each woman's is.

My 40ish year was marred with a bit of tragedy. My husband's mother had just passed away from cancer. My paternal grandmother and grandfather had passed away within months of each other. I was riding a wave of grief, just trying to keep my head above water. My sister had just gotten out of a serious relationship and was trying to rebuild her life. I have friends who have gone back to school after years of staying at home with their children, friends going back to work, or friends that were getting promoted in their careers. Being 40 looks different on every one. And just like diversity in life, On Being 40-ish offers a variety of essays from women who are in different stages of their lives, but linger around the 40-ish benchmark. 

I read in the description that this book makes the 'perfect gift.' I would like to amend that a bit and say, this makes the perfect gift for yourself. Sometimes woman need reminding that everyone had a different path, and it's not meant to look like everyone else's. This book is full of encouragement, wisdom, and inspiration. I chose to listen to this book as an audiobook. It has multiple readers, which gives it a more personal feel, as if the essays are meant for you alone. The themes range from friendship to the passing of time. This is a book that has a universal truth about women and age. Something all women can relate to.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

1 The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke Feature and Giveaway @hfvbt

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Tyndale House Publishers
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook; 432 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Christian

Download the Recipes for The Medallion

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah's Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler's mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen--Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city's library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter's life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war--if any of them survive--is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland's darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-A-Million | | Wal-Mart

About the Author

Cathy Gohlke is the three-time Christy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed novels The Medallion, Until We Find Home, Secrets She Kept (winner of the 2016 Carol and INSPY Awards), Saving Amelie (winner of the 2015 INSPY Award), Band of Sisters, Promise Me This (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2012), William Henry Is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2008), which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Award.

Cathy writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith.
When not traveling to historic sites for research, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, divide their time between Northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren.

Visit her website at and on Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, June 4

Wednesday, June 5

Thursday, June 6

Friday, June 7

Saturday, June 8

Sunday, June 9

Monday, June 10
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, June 12

Thursday, June 13
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, June 14

Monday, June 17

Tuesday, June 18
Review at Lakeside Living

Wednesday, June 19
Feature at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away 5 paperback copies of The Medallion! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

The Medallion


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